World Travels - Activities to Learn about Ireland and the Fesitvals of Ireland
Family Activities to Learn about Ireland
"These things I warmly wish to you --
Someone to love
Some work to do
A bit o' sun
A bit o' cheer
And a guardian angel always near."
Festivals of Ireland
Bloomsday is celebrated each year on June 16th in Dublin. It is a celebration of the Irish writer, James Joyce and his novel, Ulysses and the festivities usually include readings and theatrical re-enactments of the events of the novel, featuring Molly & Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. The events of the novel took place on a single day – June 16th, 1904, and the story is considered by many to be the greatest modern classic. Bloomsday was first celebrated in Dublin in 1954 and this year, as the 100th anniversary of the fictitious events of the novel, the city plans to celebrate with a 5-month festival, going from April 1st to August 31st.
St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland which celebrates the patron saint of the country, St. Patrick. Held on March 17th every year, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world by those of Irish descent.
A parade is held in many of the Irish cities, towns and villages and a special mass is attended by many of the Irish Catholics. St. Patrick’s Day is considered a Catholic holy day in Ireland, though in recent years it has evolved into a more secular holiday. There are also parades held in different parts of the world to celebrate this day. In Chicago they not only hold a St. Patrick's Day parade, but they also dye the river green in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Many cities throughout Canada and the U.S. hold parades and special St. Patrick's Day events.
The traditional emblem of St. Patrick’s Day is the green shamrock. St. Patrick was known for using the 3-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Christian Holy Trinity, and many of his followers wore the shamrock on his feast day after his death. Today the shamrock has become of symbol of Ireland itself and St. Patrick’s Day in particular.
For fun family activities to learn more about Ireland, see Ideas for Celebrating section below.
About St. Patrick
St. Patrick, born the pagan Maewyn in around 385, was 16 when sold into slavery by raiders who attacked his small village. While in captivity, he became a Christian and spent several years after escaping from slavery studying in a monastery in Gaul. It was at the monastery that he decided his mission was to convert pagans to Christianity. Eventually he returned to his native Ireland and spent 30 years traveling the island, establishing monasteries, schools and churches and converting Ireland to Christianity. He passed away on March 17th, 461.
Hold a Leprechaun Treasure Hunt!
Make up a treasure hunt and write your clues on shamrocks. Have a pot of gold treasure hiding under a rainbow. The treasure can consist of small presents wrapped in gold paper, a small pile of loonies, or small edible treats wrapped in gold foil.
Eat Green in Celebration of the Emerald Isle:
See how many green things you can eat on St. Patrick’s Day. Ideas for healthy, naturally coloured green foods: kale, lettuce, spinach, collards, chard, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, peas, green beans, edamame beans (green soybeans), sprouts of any kind (get creative – think sunflower sprouts, lentil sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts), brussel sprouts, sea vegetables, protein shakes with spirulina added (check your local health store for this incredibly good-for-you powdered green food), wheatgrass juice, green curry, green peppers, zucchini, cucumber, green tomatoes, green apples…
Street fairs are held in many towns and villages in Ireland, but on of the most unusual festivals is perhaps the Puck Fair held in Killorglin, Kerry. It is held from August 10th-12th each year and features a traditional horse fair, parade, outdoor night concerts and fireworks displays, street entertainers, dancing displays and children’s competitions as well as the special coronation ceremony of King Puck, a male goat.
The Puck Fair has been held for hundreds of years and links back to the pagan celebrations for a bountiful harvest. Puck is the pagan male goat symbol of fertility. One legend of Puck tells the story of a herd of goats fleeing from raiders in the countryside. The he-goat of the herd, Puck, fled towards Cill Orglain (present day Killorglin). When he arrived in an exhausted state, the people of the town were alerted to the approaching raiders and had time to protect themselves. It is said that the festival has been held ever since, to recognize the importance of the goat who gave them the warning.
Activities to Learn about Ireland
Wool weaving is one of Ireland’s best-known and loved crafts. The Aran Islands, just off the west coast, are well-known for their unique and beautiful sweater designs. This is a good month to spend time knitting, or learning to knit. If a member of your family knits, ask them to teach the rest of you. If no one in your immediate family knows how to do it, ask around in your extended family. It is a practice that can be learnt while having a lot of fun together as a family. Younger members of the family can finger knit.
Design your own stamp using a potato! Start by cutting the potato in half, then cut a design into the potato (small hands will need big hands to help them with this craft). Then using a thick paint, use your potato stamp to create wrapping paper, a picture or a mural.
Potatoes also make a great base for playdough! Add 1 – 1 ½ Cups of Flour to every 2 cups of baked, peeled and finely mashed potato. Combine thoroughly to create a workable dough. This playdough is also great for lunch. Simply save aside a portion, roll into small balls and cook in boiling water for a few minutes. Top with tomato sauce.
Read some Irish Short stories on-line at Ireland Information.
On-line Irish Games
Learn about Ireland with Ireland Information’s Fun Games for Kids. You’ll find world jumbles, mazes, maps & more.
There are 8 letters in the English alphabet that are not in the Irish Script. They are J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y, and Z. To have a look at the Irish Script go to the Inishowen Heritage website. http://www.inishowenheritage.com/gaeilge/irish-script.html
Try writing with the Irish script. You may want to start with your name, and then have fun from there. If your name has letters that are not in the Irish Script, try making up a new spelling with the letters that are there, or make up what you think the letters might look like if they were there.
You may also want to try decorating your writing with Celtic art. For ideas on Celtic Art and ways to decorate your name click on the following links:
Build a Stone Wall
Ireland is known for its stone walls. The walls are made without cement and are built with holes all the way along so the wind can blow through, allowing the wall to keep standing. Try making your own stone wall in either miniature form with small rocks inside or out, or, if you have access to bigger rocks, try making a life-size version in your backyard.
Build a family castle
Castles are found throughout Ireland and most of them are centuries old. Try making your own castle at home – it can be doll size or child size.
Use cardboard boxes, toilet paper and paper towels rolls, etc.